ABSENCE rates for primary school teachers with Covid-19 were six times higher in England than for children in the same settings, an analysis suggests.

In secondary schools, absences due to a confirmed case of coronavirus were up to three times higher than those of pupils, according to research from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) think tank.

The analysis suggests that teacher absence rates due to contracting Covid-19 ranged significantly across the country – from 2 per cent to 3 per cent of all secondary school teachers in Blackburn, while in the Isle of Wight and Herefordshire, almost no teachers were absent with the virus.

Assistant Branch Secretary of Blackburn with Darwen Branch of the National Education Union, Mr Andrew Pratt said: “These shocking figures raise further very serious questions about the handling of coronavirus in schools.

“What investigations have the Department for Education made into these figures?

“Why have the ministers repeatedly told school staff and the public that there was no reason for concern when these figures indicate that there should have been real concern about the much higher COVID infection rates of teachers and other school staff?

“Why did ministers deny clinically extremely vulnerable staff the right to work from home?

“Why has it taken ministers so long to release this data?

"What mitigating measures will ministers now propose?"

Other areas saw similar rates to Blackburn such as Bury and Salford, Hartlepool in County Durham, Thurrock in Essex and Calderdale in West Yorkshire.

EPI have also said it is “highly likely” that more teachers had a confirmed case of Covid-19 during the autumn term than the wider adult population, but more government data is needed to confirm this, the report says.

Approximately 0.5% to 0.9% of primary teachers in England were absent due to a confirmed Covid-19 case during the autumn term, compared with 0.05% to 0.15% of primary pupils, the analysis finds.

About 0.6% to 1% of secondary teachers were absent compared with 0.2% to 0.3% for secondary pupils.

The Department for Education has released data on the impact of coronavirus on the school workforce in “Attendance in education and early years settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak”.

The Government has been collecting this information since early October and the dataset includes the number of teachers and school leaders, teaching assistants and other staff absent with a confirmed case of coronavirus.